NACDS, NCPA support healthcare provisions in new Senate ‘jobs’ bill

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two organizations catering to the drug retailing industry and the nation's independent pharmacies expressed strong support for two provisions that are part of a new economic stimulus proposal by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The bill, coined the Senate “jobs bill”, includes provisions which are strongly supported by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association. The bill is in part designed to keep Medicare reimbursement rates at current levels, and includes a six-month extension of the temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage, which will maintain federal funding for state Medicaid programs at the current higher level through the end of June 2011. The bill also provides an exemption from the accreditation requirement for Medicare durable medical equipment providers.

“This legislation will help to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients can continue relying on their community pharmacist to meet their health needs in a cost-effective manner,” said NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts. “Independent community pharmacies are the backbone of the Medicaid drug benefit, serving a higher rate of the program’s patients than other pharmacies. This funding will allow local pharmacists to meet important health needs, rather than sending patients to costlier emergency rooms. We supported its inclusion in President Obama’s 2011 budget and we support it now.”

Additionally, the new legislation also would extend small business loan guarantees that were part of the 2009 stimulus; continue so-called COBRA health insurance premiums; and allow 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold and retail improvements, NCPA said.

Said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, “By helping to maintain access to pharmacy patient care, these provisions will improve lives and help to reduce long-term health costs that result when patients stray from the necessary treatments, such as those associated with chronic disease. NACDS has urged the advancement of these measures and will continue work for their passage and enactment, so that patients can benefit from their pharmacies’ role as the face of neighborhood health care.”

In related news, NACDS is hosting the Second Annual RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill to afford pharmacy executives, pharmacists, pharmacy students, and state pharmacy association representatives the opportunity to make their voices heard in Washington, D.C. on pivotal issues like these.

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